The Journal Gazette
Saturday, February 13, 2016 10:03 pm

Micromanaging takes time from bigger picture

Lisa Green | The Journal Gazette

Details, details, details.

Being too consumed by them puts you at risk of being viewed as a micromanager.

I’ll admit it. I’m detail-oriented.

Several leadership articles recently have touched on micromanaging, so they especially caught my attention.

"Almost all leaders are micromanagers on a certain level," according to Cameron Morrissey, whose books include "The Manager’s Diary" and "The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership."

But Morrissey, who has compiled some of his experiences into a Leadership Playbook email series, notes that micromanaging can create bottlenecks. While leaders are responsible for final products and outcomes, getting to the finish can best be managed through processes, procedures, checklists, oversight and reviews.

The key, he said, is not doing the work yourself, even though leaders ultimately have to account for the results.

I expect most leaders would rather not micromanage. It takes time away from focusing on the big picture, long-range planning, hiring decisions and other tasks that merit their time and talent.

Consistent coaching of others can help, as long as those on the receiving end are open to it – although this isn’t to suggest that only top leaders have the best ideas.

The best coaching includes back-and-forth exchanges – and being receptive to new ideas.

I saw a Facebook post Wednesday on the feed of a friend who is at least 20 years younger. The photo image in the post showed a light shining through an open doorway and the writing to the left of the doorway said "Old Ways Won’t Open New Doors."

The other side

Always being told what to do, how to do it, and even when to do it probably isn’t palatable to people with leadership potential.

To avoid micromanagement, Morrissey suggests managers have examples or "templates" for people they’re mentoring or supervising. 

While leaders may have to sometimes pull back, I think those they work with or supervise can also take some responsibility.

It can start with being proactive. When there’s a project, someone other than the leader can take initiative to outline ideas and steps to bring them to fruition. That can alleviate or prevent concerns arising from other team members or from leaders who are ultimately accountable for most things.

Someone new to leadership or carrying out certain projects should be open and responsive to guidance – a road map or template that another leader provides.

Following through and meeting deadlines is also crucial. On some projects and tasks, there’s great flexibility. On others, timelines are tight for a reason.

Communication is crucial. But in the end, it does rest on the leader to try to close any communication gaps, rather than let the gaps create bottlenecks.

An article I referenced a week ago by the project management experts with TeamGantt emphasized the importance of communication – using multiple methods to keep everyone on the same page. The article encouraged overcommunication, which notably has a negative connotation. But the article cautioned against confusing overcommunication with micromanagement.

"The best managers are those who communicate regularly, frequently, clearly and openly," the article said. "Communication makes the manager." 

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at 

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